“Dark Blossom” by Neil Mullick— Beneath the Surface

Mullick, Neel. “Dark Blossom”, Rupa Publications, 2019.

Beneath the Surface

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Amos Lassen

When Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday, he finds his world cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. At first he thinks that he can cope on his own but soon realizes that he can’t quite do so and seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist. What he doesn’t know, however,  is that Cynthia herself is trying to recover from a debilitating divorce. At the same time, Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, has a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her. With this novel we look at what is beneath the surface in the lives of many people. When I first began reading I found myself understanding that I was reading a novel about a a patient & his therapist but I realized that I was involved in a mystery that  pulled me in. I was no longer a reader but I became involved in the lives of the characters and the direction the plot was taking. Because of this I am having a rough time writing this review without giving something away. The story deals with the dilemma of working women, struggles of an abused child and the pain of a bereaved dad. Several questions arose with the reading of this book and I am still thinking about them a week after having closed the book’s covers. Is it because we never look past “normal” that severe damage can be caused? Do we run from responsibility because we are too afraid to acknowledge our dormant fears? Why are we so afraid to face our fears? Cynthia is a psychiatrist who has returned to practice after taking time off to deal with personal problems. Sam is dealing with mental and emotional issues because of the sudden demise of his wife and son. He cannot seem to find peace of mind. Cynthia who is already struggling to have a relationship with her daughter Lily helps Sam  overcome his anger issues. It is the secrets that Lily holds that propel the plot and the characters.   Lily has been the victim of a terrible childhood; Cynthia has also been victimized by her husband and when he finally leaves his familial victims, the mother-daughter hard to come together. The three lives intertwine and they are, in effect, our story. We read of anguish and joy, love and war and life and death. We see the beauty and ugliness of our characters’ lives. As the characters seek a place of solace, they become swept up in history. When Sam’s wife Marisa and his son Will die in a car accident, Sam is thrust into a world of questions— those that do not have an answer. He walks a fine line between rage and sadness and these emotions are what bring  Cynthia to look after him more closely than she ever intended to. However, she does not take the time to really understand what Sam has been through or that his grief has affected him physically. Cynthia tries to console Sam through his grief at the same time that she was dealing with her divorce and her daughter.  More than that I cannot say.

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